Global Events | CEME

Uploaded by BizTraining on 09.10.2011

Planning Events in Other Countries Welcome to Video number 28. Please note that
everything we’ve discussed in previous videos applies to planning events outside your own
country, but there are a number of very important considerations and components you must add
into your plan and practices when coordinating any type of event outside yours.
The first rule of thumb in planning international events is: expect everything to be different
that what you usually expect. If you want your event planning experience to be completely
familiar and predictable, don’t try to plan an out-of-country event.
The second rule of thumb is: Know your attendees. If they are people who seldom travel and don’t
have experience with international travel and visiting foreign countries, then don’t
force them out of their comfort zone by taking them to an overseas destination unless there
is a very compelling reason to do so. The third rule of thumb is: International
travel can be quite challenging, even for the seasoned traveler, so make your international
events all inclusive to alleviate stress and anxiety; package the entire event from flights,
to transfers, to accommodations and meals and the event sessions themselves.
Remember that within countries there can be vast differences as well; what you might find
for event services in a big city with an international airport might be non-existent in a small one
just an hour or so away. It is absolutely essential that you do a site visit when planning
event in another country’s city that you’ve never been to so you can craft your plan to
work seamlessly with what’s available, not what you’re accustomed to.
Following are the fundamental differences between domestic and international event planning:
Languages: For the sake of this discussion, we’re assuming you are from one of the 50-plus
countries in the world where English is the official language, only because this presentation
is written in English. There are about 508 million people in the world who speak English
as a native language or fluently as a second language as of 2010. About 900 million total
people have the ability to communicate in English; that means about 6.8 billion people
don’t speak English at all. You will be facing language barriers when you plan international
events. Period. For example, Although English is one of the languages spoken in these countries
New Guinea residents speak 820 different languages, there are 516 languages spoken in Nigeria
and 427 in India—311 in the United States, by the way—297 in Mexico, 275 in Australia,
and somewhat surprisingly only 241 spoken in China and 129 in Russia. We highly recommend
that you have all of your agreements and contracts professionally translated into your native
language and that you and your service providers sign both language copies. It is also wise
to contract with a translator to support you through the planning, contract negotiation
and implementation of your event if English is not the official language of the country
you’re working in. Shipping and Receiving: When you first choose
an international destination, ask your destination management company about customs brokers they
have good references for or contact that country’s customs bureau directly. With heightened security
prevalent in most countries it is increasingly difficult to pass items through customs in
many, and the process is frequently very slow. Anticipate everything you and your presenters
or entertainers will need to ship to the host country very early on and work with a customs
broker to make sure you ship well enough in advance to obtain timely release of your items.
Most customs brokers will warehouse your freight until it needs to be forwarded on to its destination.
Whenever possible purchase or rent everything you need in the host country to avoid the
cost and hassles of international shipping. Holidays: We are all used to working around
the holidays our countrymen and women traditionally celebrate; as of 2011, the U.S. government
holidays—the ones most businesses close for—number 11. China, Hong Kong and Egypt
all close for 16 as a nation; India, Indonesia, Thailand and Morocco have 15 official non-business
holidays; Malaysia celebrates 14 holidays; and Chile and Turkey round off the top 10
with 13 holidays. These are just official government holidays. Many countries also have
provincial and even local holidays that close down business as usual, sometimes rather spontaneously.
It’s critical that you, as an event planner, make sure you have blocked out every possible
holiday on you master calendar. Furthermore, some countries have official vacation seasons
you need to consider; for example, Western Europe practically shuts down in August because
it’s arguably the best weather month on average and the one that’s preferred by
the masses for holiday breaks. Paperwork and Safety Considerations: Not only
do you need to make sure you’ve obtained all the necessary shots and certifications
thereof, passport, tickets, insurance and filed you itinerary with friends and the
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, you need to make sure your attendees know about and
prepare fully as well. Regardless of what country is your native one, some countries
are notoriously difficult to travel into (as of 2011), these include: Russia, China, India,
North Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, Angola, Cuba, Brazil and Iran.
For these and most other countries, we recommend you work closely with a destination management
company to navigate the red tape; also contact the U.S. Department of State, or State Department,
if you have any concerns about access to or safety of travelling in certain destination
countries. Money Exchange Rates: There are about 182
official currencies worldwide; these are currencies that can be exchanged with each other based
on economy driven exchange rates. It is vital to your event budget that you first confirm
that everyone in your destination city trades with an exchangeable currency. Once confirmed,
research the economy of that country to determine how the exchange rate will affect your bottom
line, and what impact pending events in the both nations might have on your budget. Use
one of the online exchange rate calculators weekly to track variations prior to your event.;
if there are extreme variances you may want to reconsider your destination.
Business Day Schedule Differences: Many countries in the world do not have regular 9-5 business
work days. For example, although the Spanish government has tried somewhat successfully
to standardize Spain’s work schedule to the rest of Europe, most Spaniards still work
from about 9am to 2pm, take a few hours off and go back to work until 6, 7, 8 or even
9 at night. Some Scandinavian countries have 6-hour workday options. Know before you go,
so you can fit your productivity schedule into the host country’s.
Cultural Customs: The world over, there are cultural variations that visitors need to
be aware and respectful of. In some countries, it is critical that visitors practice these
customs; make sure you’ve done due diligence in determining what customs you and your attendees
need to incorporate. Business International recommend following these ten practices whenever
conduction business in other countries: 1. Learn something about the country, local
customs, and cultural sensitivities to avoid making faux pas while abroad.
2. Err on the side of formality. Be low-key in dress, manners, and behavior.
3. Don't rush greetings and introductions in an effort to get down to business quickly.
4. Expect your meetings and negotiations to be longer than anticipated. Build more time
into schedules. 5. Don't show impatience or irritation. Politeness
and respect matter. 6. Express yourself carefully. Accents, idioms,
and business jargon may be unfamiliar. 7. Listen attentively to show that you care
about what is being said. 8. Indicate a sincere interest in your colleagues,
their concerns and issues, to build win-win solutions.
9. Don't put global colleagues on the spot or cause loss of face by being too direct
or expecting a "yes" or "no" answer. 10. Avoid public criticism or comparison with
your own country. 11. Familiarize yourself with customs surrounding
gift-giving and business entertaining. 12. Build relationships and trust, which is
the key to successful global partnerships.
Religious Considerations: It is estimated by theologians that there are about 4,200
religions in the world that are being practiced at any given time. When holding events in
other countries, you need to know what religions are prevalent at your destination and how
religious customs and observances might influence the actions of your attendees and the activities
at your event. If you do not have a destination management consultant to advise you about
local religion, you should research the country’s religions and be mindful of their customs.
Food Preferences: Often an extension of religious beliefs, some cultures have forbidden foods
lists or, conversely commonly serve foods that other cultures are unaccustomed to, even
repulsed by. In some cultures, all foods may be permitted, but how they are dispatched
and prepared require special practices. Know your attendees and the food customs of your
host nation when planning your menus and contract only to those choices that will satisfy your
guests as well as the region’s practices. Time Zone Changes: You’ll become accustomed
to working from zone to zone quite early in the planning stages of your international
event; you may even have to change you work schedule entirely for days at a time while
organizing an overseas function. The internet and fax technologies have made international
communication much easier than it used to be, and if you have plenty of time you can
just work knowing that all communication will have a one or two-day lag time. It’s very
important that you give yourself and your attendees ample time to adjust to the time
zone before your event pre-work and their event attendance starts. There are a number
of online calculators that can help you determine how many hours of light, dark and rest each
attendee needs base on the number of times zones they cross and how many hours it takes
them; everyone who will participate should use them and follow their recommendations.
Using Destination Management Companies: The International Society of meeting Planners
defines Destination Management Companies as: “locally based, for-profit tourism business
whose function is to provide groups - and individuals - with services to meet their
travel, meeting, and entertainment interests and needs at a specific time and place. The
DMC can offer as little as group transportation - and as much as complete responsibility for
all activities of a 100,000 person convention in a specific city.” DMCs are a vital and
highly recommended resource for international meeting planners, even if you are familiar
with the host nation; they are your staff on the ground when you can’t be.
Room Configurations: From function rooms to accommodations, different country’s have
different styles. In many countries hotel rooms only come with one or two twin beds,
for example. Make sure your venue and all of the related facilities on and off-site
have all of the accoutrements and features you need; kitchens for example are very different
the world over--don’t assume that just because your conference space has a kitchen that it
can accommodate the capacity your caterer requires; have them verify that it can. Your
attendees won’t mind unfamiliar room configurations if they are prepared, so communicate anything
you think might be a surprise to them before they arrive.
Amenities: When you publicize accommodation amenities like pool, spa and health club.
Make sure these terms mean the same in both countries. Asian spas, for example, may actually
feature dietary practices and massage styles that are very unfamiliar to your attendees.
Pool might refer to a pond, and a health club might be communal mineral baths. Again, your
attendees will probably welcome these differences if they expect them.
So, these are the basics. You’ll uncover dozens of other considerations as you work
with your destination and venue point people. The key to your success in planning international
events is the word “international.” If you want your event to seem like a meeting
at a Ohio turnpike Holiday Inn, then hold it at the Ohio Turnpike Holiday Inn. When
in Rome…plan and host events that make your attendees feel like they’re in Rome, because
they are; they’ll enjoy it That’s the point!